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MLB trade deadline: Top 10 players who could be moved by July 31

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 5/22/2019 Bob Nightengale
Madison Bumgarner in a baseball game © Provided by USA Today Sports Media Group LLC

SAN FRANCISCO -- He will forever be immortalized by the San Francisco Giants and their fanbase who watched Madison Bumgarner lead them to three World Series championships a decade ago.

But this isn’t a time for sentimentalism.

The Giants have no choice but to trade their ace, knowing that if they’re going to rebuild for the first time in a decade before their World Series dynasty began, Bumgarner must be the centerpiece.

Oh, this isn’t the same Bumgarner who was their World Series hero, going 4-0 with a 0.25 ERA in five appearances. This isn’t the one who was one of the nastiest starters in the National League for six years, winning 93 games, pitching 1,276.2 innings and striking out 1,285 batters.

Yet, fully healthy and still throwing 93 mph on his 101st pitch in his last outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks, his trade value is the highest it has been in two years.

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There were several clubs, including the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies, scouting Bumgarner last weekend, with Bumgarner saying afterwards, “I feel like I threw the ball as well as I ever have.’’

Now, the Giants need everyone else in baseball to believe it too, with hopes of seizing at least one top five prospect from a team, or perhaps two others of their top 15 prospects in return.

Bumgarner, 29, made sure to have some control of where he’s headed, with the ability to block trades to eight contenders, but he realizes the Giants have no interest in keeping him around, paying him a fat free-agent contract.

Bumgarner will be among the elite prizes at the July 31 trade deadline. Teams are salivating over his playoff resume. He’s 8-3 with a 2.11 ERA and three shutouts, including a 0.79 ERA in his last four postseason outings. He could be the perfect fit for the Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers or the St. Louis Cardinals.

There are 69 shopping days left before the July 31 trade deadline, and this time, there is no safety net. There is only one deadline, forcing teams to make a decision early. Oh sure, teams can still claim high-priced players, but with no trades, they would have to assume the entirety of the contract. If this rule was in place in 2017, Justin Verlander would never have been traded, and the Houston Astros would still be looking for their first World Series.

Here’s a peek at the top 10 trade candidates, assuming that the Cleveland Indians don’t shop Trevor Bauer, no matter how many games they trail Minnesota. Or that the Washington Nationals don’t do something as crazy as firing manager Dusty Baker two years ago, like moving ace Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasburg.

Madison Bumgarner, RHP, Giants

Bumgarner, who earns $12 million in the final year of his contract, has eight teams he can’t be traded to without his permission, and yes, all are contenders: The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers. The only contenders not on the list are the Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays. And no, he won’t be going to the Dodgers, not unless the Giants don’t mind having their beautiful ballpark burned to the ground.

Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals

The primary reason the Nationals halted negotiations with free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper last winter was that they wanted to keep Rendon. They knew they couldn’t keep both on their payroll in 2020, so they chose Rendon. The trouble is that they still haven’t signed him to an extension. If he remains unsigned by July 31, why not move him, perhaps even acquire some young relievers, and try to re-sign him as a free agent?

Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays have quietly let teams know they will be sellers at the trade deadline, and Stroman is their biggest trade chip. Don’t be fooled by his 2-6 record, he has pitched well this season, with the Blue Jays scoring just 10 runs in his first 10 starts. He’s yielding a 2.96 ERA, and has the best ground-ball percentage in the American League. He earns a reasonable $7.4 million this season, and he has one arbitration year left before he’s a free agent.

Mike Minor, LHP, Texas Rangers

The New York Mets tried all spring to acquire Minor. The Philadelphia Phillies spent the winter making trade proposals. Now, virtually every team in baseball wants the man. Minor, 31, has been phenomenal this season. He’s 5-3 with a 2.64 ERA with 67 strikeouts in a league-leading 64 2/3 innings, with a record 29 consecutive scoreless innings at Globe Life Park. He’s earning $9.5 million this year, and $9.5 million in 2020. The Rangers, opening their new ballpark next season, may have to be overwhelmed to consider trading him.

Zack Greinke, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

If money was no object, Greinke would head the list. He may no longer have the same blazing fastball, but he’s the modern-day Greg Maddux with his brilliance. He’s 6-1 with a 2.12 ERA since opening day. The biggest detriment is his contract. He’s in the final three years of his original six-year, $206 million deal, paying him $31.5 million this year, $32 million in 2020 and $32 million in 2021. The remaining contract is deferred by $32.5 million, but still, there are few teams willing to swallow the contract in its entirety, much less provide prized prospects to go along with the huge paycheck.

Clint Frazier, OF, New York Yankees

Frazier has been part of Yankees kiddie corps. He finally is living up to the promise that made him the fifth pick in the 2013 draft. Yet, with outfielder Aaron Hicks back from the injured list, and outfielders Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton on their way, there may be no place for him. His best value may be on the trade market where the Yankees can flip him for a starting pitcher.

Sean Doolittle, LHP, Nationals

The Nationals are once again the most underachieving team in baseball, and their bullpen is a natural disaster, but if they’re out of contention by July, does it make any sense to keep a closer. Doolittle, left-handed, could be the most valuable reliever on the market. He comes cheap at $6 million this year with a $6.5 million option. The Cubs, who are in desperate need of bullpen help, have their eyes squarely on him.

Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Blue Jays

When Sanchez is healthy, he can be electric, as his 15-2 record and 3.00 ERA in 2016 indicated. Yet, he can’t stay healthy, battling blister problems, limiting him to just 38 starts and 192 innings since that season. Still, he’s young (26), cheap ($3.9 million) and under team control through 2021.

Will Smith, LHP, Giants

He has quietly been one of the most effective closers in baseball the past 11 months, successfully converting 26 of his last 29 save opportunities, including all 12 this season. He has been absolutely lethal of late, with 11 of his last 12 outs being a strikeout, and yielding a .172 opponent’s batting average. He earns just $4.225 million, and is a free agent after the season.

Mitch Haniger, OF, Seattle Mariners

This is the type of player the Mariners would like to build their core around for the future. He’s also the type of player that GM Jerry Dipoto loves to trade. Haniger, 28, is hitting .237 with 12 homers and 26 RBI, with only an .837 OPS. Yet, he’s coming off an All-Star season, and is earning only $590,000. He could be the type of outfielder the doctor ordered for the Cleveland Indians.

Follow Nightengale on Twitter @Bnightengale

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB trade deadline: Top 10 players who could be moved by July 31

Related slideshow: The 2019 MLB season (Provided by imagn) 

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